The kids will be out of school, the beach is calling and now, more than ever, thoughts turn to indulging with a glass or three. You don’t have to spend a fortune to do it. Here are some of my favorite summer wine values. They’re nationally available, and if you buy wines by the case (12 bottles) many retailers offer discounts. So stock up and beat the heat!
Everyone knows about box wines, but the latest packaging craze is what I dub the “purse-o-wine.” Known as the Astrapouch, it’s an environmentally friendly container of two bottles of wine in a single, lightweight bag. With a carrying handle and 90 percent less waste than glass, it’s a no brainer to buy. It will also stay fresh for a month, making beach parties, block parties or camping with wine simple.
2009 Indulge Wines Pinot Noir, Central Coast $20 (1.5 liter pouch = two bottles/$10 each)
You’re hard-pressed to find a Pinot worth drinking under $15 much less one in a bag. This red is light, refreshing and captures the pretty red berry character of Pinot Noir. It’s a winner by all standards.
The Climber, Chardonnay, California $17 (1.5 liter pouch = two bottles/$8.50 each)
Smooth with ripe tropical flavors, this Chard showcases freshness and loads of fruit in an easy-to-carry pouch.
Light, fruity, aromatic whites
These whites are both dry and aromatic or sport a dash of sweetness making them perfect for taming spicy hot dishes or kicking off poolside cool-downs.
2010 Two Oceans Sauvignon Blanc, South Africa $9
Hailing from the tip of the country between the Indian and Atlantic Oceans, this citrusy white is summer in a bottle.
2009 Tapena Verdejo, Spain $10
Pronounced ver-Day-ho, the lemony sipper zips up freshness and a hint of honeyed complexity.
2010 Santa Julia Torrontes, Mendoza, Argentina $10
Argentina’s signature white variety, Torrontes is crisp yet very floral. This wine is dry and delicious.
2010 Fetzer Moscato, California $9
Moscato is on fire these days and this easy-drinking, lightly sweet version is a top summer quaffer.
Barefoot Riesling, California $7
Bright and light with sweet fruit flavors, chill this white down, unscrew, and enjoy.
Lush whites and light-hearted roses:
These full-bodied whites pair well with grilled chicken and salmon while the Rose category marries with any al fresco dish from Cajun shrimp to tri-tip. Rose comes from a variety of red grapes that are made in a white wine style so it’s the ideal warm-weather sipper.
2009 Casillero del Diablo Chardonnay, Chile $10
From the iconic Concha y Toro winery, this sun-kissed, soft white is a crowd pleaser.
2009 Hess Select Chardonnay, Monterey, California $12
Worth twice the price, this stylish, classy white is one of my favorite Chardonnay values.
2010 Marques de Caceres Rose, Rioja, Spain $9
A dry, delicious pink that’s so easy to drink, you’ll want to buy it by the case.
2010 Bieler Pere et Fils “Sabine” Rose, Coteaux d’Aix-En-Provence, France $12
Elegant, zesty and oo-la-la inducing, the south of France comes alive in this dry, berry-scented rose.
Spicy, succulent reds
What would summer be without smoked ribs, burgers, grilled steaks or veggie kabobs? These juicy reds will help you saddle up to eating in the great outdoors.
Pine & Post Red Blend, Washington State $7
A mélange of red grapes go into this uber-affordable red. Soft and juicy.
2009 Vitiano, Umbria, Italy $8
A perennial favorite of mine made by star Italian winemaker Riccardo Cotarella, this blend of Sangiovese, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon is a superstar deal.
2009 Cupcake Vineyards “Red Velvet”, California $10
Cupcake cooks up Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon and other red varieties for a smooth, drinkable red (yes, you can pair it with red velvet cake).
2008 Trapiche “Oak Cask” Malbec, Mendoza, Argentina $10
Intense and sexy, Malbec is the wine equivalent of a tango, and Trapiche qualifies as a tango master. It’s a hearty and supple red for all beef dishes.
House Wine Red, Columbia Valley, Washington $11
From world class vintner Charles Smith comes a whimsical mesh of Cabernet, Merlot, Malbec, Syrah and more. Make it your house wine.
2008 Yalumba “FDR1A” Red, Barossa, Australia $11
A hidden treasure. The marriage of Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz sings when paired with rosemary-infused grilled lamb.
2009 Root: 1 Carmenere, Colchagua Valley, Chile $12
Carmenere is the hallmark of Chile and this sophisticated red is spicy, vibrant and packed with dark berry flavors. Root: 1’s bottle is sleek-chic making it a top gift choice, too.
2008 Dow “Vale Do Bomfim,” Douro, Portugal $12
Portugal is offering some of the best red bargains these days and this dry, concentrated red is the perfect partner for summer grilling.
2008 Liberty School Cuvee, Central Coast, California $12
From the talented hands of vintner Austin Hope, this Rhone blend highlights the succulence of Syrah-based reds. Sip with or without your bikini.
June 25: Wine expert Leslie Sbrocco gives TODAY's Hoda Kotb and Kathie Lee Gifford samples of wines that will taste great with barbecue.
Leslie Sbrocco is the author of "The Simple & Savvy Wine Guide" and founder of ThirstyGirl.com.